Dr. Parminder Raina is a Professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evaluation, and Impact at McMaster University. He specializes in the epidemiology of aging with emphasis on developing the interdisciplinary field of geroscience to understand the processes of aging from cell to society. He has expertise in epidemiologic modeling, systematic review methodology, injury, and knowledge transfer. Dr. Raina holds a Canada Research Chair in Geroscience, and the Raymond and Margaret Labarge Chair in Research and Knowledge Application for Optimal Aging. He is the inaugural Scientific Director of the McMaster Research Institute for Research on Aging, and The Labarge Centre for Mobility in Aging, and is the lead investigator of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Dr. Raina is one of the founding members of the Ontario Research Coalition of Aging Institutes/Centers and has served on several national and international advisory committees, such as the National Panel for Transportation Needs of Aging Population, Big Data Initiative in Ontario, Ontario Minister’s Advisory Group on Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementia Research. He is also a member of the External Scientific Advisory Board of European Union funded projects Consortium on Health and Ageing Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States (CHANCES) and the Social Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing (SIforAGE) consortium. Dr Raina has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and reports, and has supported the development of multiple practice guidelines for dementia, heart failure, and for primary care physicians.
Interdisciplinary Research Leading to Evidence-Informed Policy: Contributions to the Global Aging Strategy from the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging
John N. Lavis, MD PhD, holds the Canada Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Health Systems. He is the Director of the McMaster Health Forum (and Forum+), Co-Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy, Associate Director of the Michael G. DeGroote – Cochrane Canada Centre, Professor in the Department of Health Evidence and Impact, Member of the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, and Associate Member of the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. John Lavis is relied on by policymakers and stakeholders in Canada and a broad range of countries internationally to harness research evidence, citizen values and stakeholder insights to strengthen health and social systems and get the right programs, services and products to the people who need them. He founded and continues to direct the McMaster Health Forum and has now launched Forum+ to expand the Forum’s work into social systems and supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. He is committed to helping policymakers and stakeholders to: 1) learn how to make decisions based on the best available research evidence; 2) find evidence through the Forum’s own products and the best available sources of pre-appraised, synthesized research evidence (including the Forum’s Health Systems Evidence and Social Systems Evidence and the Forum-supported and citizen-targeted McMaster Optimal Aging Portal); 3) spark action through stakeholder dialogues, citizen panels and more; 4) embed supports for evidence-informed decision-making, by institutionalizing promising and proven approaches; and 5) evaluate innovations in supporting evidence-informed decision-making.
Dr. Vrkljan is an Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy program where her research focuses on aging, transportation mobility, and participation in older adulthood. She has over 75 publications, 80 presentations and held 14 grants as principal or co-principal investigator totaling over $2 million dollars. Dr. Vrkljan is a successful researcher, as evidenced by her funding portfolio, which includes CIHR, Transport Canada, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, The Alzheimer’s Society, and the McMaster Labarge Opportunities Fund. She has served as a member of the Advisory Board of the National Blueprint for Injury Prevention of Older Drivers supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Driving and Dementia in Ontario study funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. She was an elected board member for the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists. Locally, she serves on the board for the Thrive Group, a not-for-profit agency in Hamilton that provides services to seniors in the community and long-term care.
Dr. P. Ravi Selvaganapathy is a Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University, Canada. He is also the Canada Research Chair in Biomicrofluidics. He completed his B.S. in chemical and electrochemical engineering (1998) from Central Electrochemical Research Institute, India. He then obtained his M.S and Ph.D in electrical engineering (2002) from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Sandia National Laboratories from 2003-2004 and joined McMaster University in 2005. His research interests are in the development of microfluidic devices for drug discovery, drug delivery, diagnostics and artificial organs. He has more than 20 years of extensive experience in the micro/nano fabrication and microfluidics in the areas of medical and environmental diagnostics, drug delivery and drug discovery which has resulted in ~75 publications, in the top journals in the field. In addition he has published more than 50 refereed conference papers and has presented 25 invited talks at conferences, universities and other forums. His research has won a number of best paper awards and has been selected as cover articles for journals. He has written 6 invited book chapters and been issued 6 US patents related to MEMS/microfluidic devices. Two of his technologies has been licensed for commercialization and he has consulted with a number of leading companies in the field. Some of his research has been featured in scientific media such as Popular Mechanics as wells as in mainstream media such as CBC News, and in newspapers across Canada. He also received the Early Researchers Award from the ministry of research and innovation in 2010 and has been named as a Rising Star in Global Health by Grand Challenges Canada in 2012.
The McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) is housed at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. MIRA was launched in 2016 to amplify the existing research strengths in aging at the University, and to facilitate deeper interdisciplinary partnerships to respond to the opportunities associated with the growing population of older adults in Canada and around the world. Critical to the work of McMaster’s researchers is the implementation, evaluation and translation of research outputs into practice, including clinical and societal interventions and policies. Connecting McMaster’s research to the global community through, for example, the WHO Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health, expands the impact of these research outputs. This symposium will address the five key strategic objectives of the WHO plan, namely i) commitment to action on Healthy Ageing in every country; ii) developing age-friendly environments; iii) aligning health systems to the needs of older populations; iv) developing sustainable and equitable systems for providing long-term care (home, communities, institutions); and v) improving measurement, monitoring and research on Healthy Ageing. The speakers will describe how McMaster researchers contribute to this global ageing strategy through interdisciplinary research leading to evidence-informed policy.
Parminder Raina, Canada Research Chair in Geroscience and Director of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, will discuss the need for a clearer picture of the multifaceted changes that occur during the aging process. The effects of complex interactions among changing biological, psychological, and social factors can take years to manifest and may have a different impact on tomorrow’s seniors (i.e. the baby boomers) than today’s seniors. Large national studies like the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) are needed to address the needs of policy makers at all levels of decision-making. Longitudinal data, especially in low and middle income countries, are essential to also advance research on aging and enable researchers to move beyond providing a snapshot of the adult population toward observing and understanding the evolution of diseases, psychological attributes, function, disabilities, and psychosocial processes that frequently accompany aging. The CLSA can be used to demonstrate how data can inform government policies and practices at all levels. The presentation will also discuss other data requirements that exist to address the needs of decision-makers in emerging economies that will be facing major demographic shifts, so they can begin planning policies and programs to support their aging populations.
John Lavis, director of the McMaster Health Forum and its new Forum+ initiative focused on broader social-system issues, will discuss how the Forum has been harnessing the best available research evidence and systematically elicited citizen values and stakeholder insights to drive change in government policy about health systems. While the focus of this work has been primarily related to the global strategy’s strategic objective related to aligning health systems to the needs of older populations, some of it has also addressed commitments to action on healthy aging and systems for providing long-term care. He will also discuss how the Forum, in partnership with four other groups at McMaster University, has created the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal and related training resources to equip older adults, their caregivers, families and allies with the information needed to push for change in government policy, both related to the health aspects of optimal aging but now also to the social aspects of optimal aging.
Brenda Vrkljan, PhD, O.T. Reg. (Ont.) is an Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program at McMaster University where her research focuses on transportation and participation in older adulthood, with a broader emphasis on projects that promote age-friendly community design and integration. In accordance with the WHO Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health (2016-2020), Dr. Vrkljan will highlight results from key projects, including the design of an intergenerational hub. This hub aims to facilitate the development of cohesive relationships across generations by optimizing meaningful engagement and understanding of our aging population; a key tenet of the WHO plan. As well, this presentation will discuss transportation mobility, where the results from studies that have tracked the health and driving patterns of older adults across time will be outlined. These projects set the stage for a wider dialogue on the importance of healthy aging as a public health priority and highlights how leveraging cross-sectoral expertise, including researchers, government and industry stakeholders, alongside older adults is critical in the co-development of initiatives aimed at this population.
Ravi Selvaganapathy is a Professor in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University. His research focuses on design and development biomedical microdevices with applications in diagnostics, drug delivery, drug discovery and artificial organs. A number of researchers at McMaster and elsewhere have been developing smart home technologies that could be beneficial to the aging population. He will present and discuss some of the low cost diagnostic technologies that are being developed to assist with independent living for older adults and improving quality of life.